Saturday, 25 February 2017

Flames of War: Sculpting the TKS-D tank destroyer and the Polski Fiat 508 Furgon pick up truck...

One of the really cool things about choosing the Polish 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade (10BK otherwise known as The Black Brigade) to game with is that it has the most variety of weapons and equipment of any of the Polish formations that you can field for Flames of War, assuming of course you are using Alex's Poland In Flames unofficial expansion (Because if you are just using the Blitzkreig book to play Poland you will probably starve for a creative outlet) which goes into some serious detail about the formations that were battling over the gateway to the east or west (depending on your direction of march). This expansion, written and edited by Alexander Kawczynski (his blog is Anatoli's Gameroom), is a serious labour of love that deserves real credit.

Even Alex's tireless work on this subject however cannot cover absolutely everything. The State Police which fought over all of Poland are missing, an opportunity for the Pinsk and Vistula Riverine Flotillas was bypassed and of course there are always the little things that slip through, although this could possibly have been due to a lack of extant evidence for their use.

Me? I like to field 'whats ifs' (Please refer to my 10TP and 4TP tank blog) as well as providing a chance for the weird and wonderful if one can find an argument for them. Perhaps taking first place with these arguments is the ones for the TKD Self Propelled Gun and the TKS-D Tank Destroyer, the first tank destroyer in history.

It is likely that the TKD's that were still around were deployed with the Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigade, and will be the subject of another blog post in the future whilst the two TKS-D's were still with the Black Brigade whom they had been with since late 1937 for field trials and deployment to Zaolzie which I will blog about with gusto here and now!

So we will start with the:

Polski Fiat 508/III Furgon

This is a small Polish utility truck that filled a variety of functions not least of which involved carrying all of the Heavy Machine Gun platoons about the battlefield. Now I have plenty of HMG's in my Black Brigade force and as such I couldn't avoid sculpting this horrible little beast any longer.

A modern rebuild of a 1934 Furgon without the spare wheels and soft top.
I just sucked in my bottom lip and got down to it...

and I hated every second!

The problem with this vehicle is all of the curved surfaces on it and the enclosed cab with no side windows and a curved windshield. Frankly I'm just not up to this yet so I decided to just get done what I could and be satisfied. 

The end result is OK I think but its not entirely accurate and the scale seems to have creeped up slightly on all of the other Fiats that I've done. Not by much, and with a softskin put on the back you will probably not even notice... but I know, and thats bad enough!

Anyway, this is a picture of the Furgon as I aim to finish mine:

The genereal utility version of the Furgon with its soft top on.
The sculpting that I did took a similar course to the other Polski Fiat 508's that I have already done with adjustments made for the cab. I decided to do a fully enclosed cab as I would rather paint black holes instead of actually have holes in my vehicle.

Once I put the softskin on the back it should prove to be one of the easiest to cast and reproduce as there are very few awkward areas that will tear a resin mold.

This is what I managed to knock up:

Not terribly interesting but there we go...

Now onto something a whole lot more enigmatic:

The TKS-D tank destroyer

The TKS-D was a further development of the TKS tankettes that initially had led to the TKD self propelled gun. The development of this little beauty was atypical of normal armoured vehicle development as it was originally conceived as an artillery tractor designed to pull the wz.36 Bofors 37mm anti tank gun and an ammunition caisson.

The TKS-D without the top skirt armour showing its caisson at the proving grounds in Barycz

It was conceived that the actual weapon itself could be dismounted from its carriage and mounted on the vehicle itself to be put back onto its carriage when setting up for anti tank duties.

Photographic evidence suggests that whilst even towing the carriage and caisson the TKS-D was only ever used with the gun mounted and by virtue of this fact became, in point of fact, the worlds first tank destroyer.

Fording a river in 1938 and showing the cannon dismounted from its carriage and placed into the vehicle mount.

One area of massive advantage in this role was its very low silhouette which potentially made it a particularly difficult target to hit.

The TKS-D was developed from a modified TKS tankette chassis, just as the C2P artillery tractor was. There were differences however, for example in the TKS-D side clutches were used in the transmission and bigger idler wheels, set closer to the ground as extra road wheels were used in order to increase the stability of the firing platform and provide better traction.

The main designers were J. Lupuszewski and H. Lipko who worked under the auspice of R. Gundlach who completed two prototypes in 1937 using chassis TKS nr.8897 and TKS-B nr.1510, with the TKS-B chassis already having been retrofitted with new running gear.

The TKS-D's had a new extended hull, most of which was taken up with the open topped crew compartment. Each of the prototypes had differences in hull shapes with one of them having a higher circuit wall, enclosing the entire circumference of the crew compartment and that sloped inwards at the top whilst the other only had the top sloped extensions on the frontal third of the vehicle.

The 'other' TKS-D showing the all round armour skirt
The gun sight, aiming mechanisms and loading block were all positioned on the left hand side of the gun so the drivers position was changed to the right hand side of the vehicle with the space behind him being used for ammunition stowage.

Each of the prototypes was also equipped with a two wheeled ammunition caisson that carried a further 80 rounds of AT ammunition.

Climbing a bank and giving a good view of the caisson and the gun carriage sans gun!
Once the two vehicles were completed they were tested at the Army Training Centre in Modlin. By 1938 they were assigned, along with the 4 strong platoon of TKD's to the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade being deployed on manoeuvres in August and September 1938, then participating in the reoccupation of the native Polish Zaolzie province from the Czech republic (this, when looking under the surface is quite a dirty episode of Polish politics which was rewarded with accusation of assisting Nazi Germany in the dismemberment of the Czechoslovakian state, had Stalin mobilising the Red Army and offering to land 700 fighter planes for Czechoslovakian use in the defence of the disputed territory, which was then followed up with some seriously poor political and social practises by the Polish government in the two states that comprised the Zaolzie province essentially turning the majority native quarter of a million Polish inhabitants against its own new government).

Being displayed for King Carol II of Romania in 1938
Further clarity on the actions of the TKS-D's is sketchy at best with no photographic evidence yet surfacing but the most recent research ('Dywizjon Rozpoznawczy 10 Brygady Kawalerii 1938-1939' Eugeniusz Piotr Nowak, 1999) suggests that the TKS-D's were still present with 10BK and along with 4 truck towed wz.36 Bofors, allocated to the Reconnaissance Battalions anti tank company, furiously resisting the advance of two German Armoured Divisions through the Beskidy Mountains (I've  holidayed in the Beskides and they are covered with switchback trails that wind inbetween steep and deep valleys) with one being lost on 5th September during the fighting at Skrzydlna and the second finally falling on 9th September at Albigowa.

Modelling the TKS-D

So this little beauty may be a tiny piece of cordite packing loveliness but make no mistake this was one bitch to put together. Its so small and so intricate with an open interior that I was frequently having to re-cut things, trim them down, redesign and redo parts.

Of all the vehicles I have done, this is the one that has taken me the longest to do.

The schematics of the TKS-D that I found to work off of

Now, fortunately I just happened to have a broken True North miniatures wz.36 Bofors laying around and so I decided that I finally had a use for its barrel! I also had ordered Early War German vehicle crews from Skytrex and I thought that these would do nicely as crews (with a little tampering of course).

I already had wheels with mudguards prepared for my Fiats and thought these could do double duty as the wheels for the caisson. Finally I realised I had no track sections that I could use.

However having an over abundance of TKS' I decided to rip the track sections off of one of these to use for some home casting to provide the track sections for the other TKS-D I need to build and the TKD's.... the rest is all me baby...

... and there we have it. Another rare Polish vehicle done.

At this point I now have another one of these to build as well as two TKD models. Given all of the Half Track conversions that I have ahead of me as well as actually learning how to cast models I have to say that I may very well have bitten off more than I can chew this year so to speak.... however when has that ever stopped me eh?

You just dig in and kick on. See how far you get! :D

Fix Bayonets!!!!


  1. They look awesome bro..... lots of jard work has went into these and cant wait to see em painted up

  2. Cheers Johnnie, glad you like them mate. I have another three of these bitches to do (well, two TKD's and another TKS-D actually but you get the idea!) and then I worked out about thirty trucks to fiddle with... and thats before I even get to the casting stage.... I have chosen a whopper of a project to get stuck into this year eh? LOL